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Archive for the ‘Vegan’ Category

Okay, I want to start by apologizing for totally neglecting my blog for the last week.  I have been craft obsessed this holiday season and totally immersed myself in creating all kinds of holiday fun.  But I am back in the blogging saddle and ready to update everyone on the happenings in my world.

First we’ll back track a bit to Thanksgiving.  My family and I traveled to Boise and had Thanksgiving with our relatives.  I spent several days before the trip preparing road snacks and gathering plenty of vegan friendly menu items for our holiday meal.  Pretty much everything that had been made by my relatives had butter in it so I improvised for my Thanksgiving meal.  I had a lovely lentil soup with mashed potatoes, pumpkin biscuits and cranberry sauce.  My family were even willing to try a few vegan items.  They loved the pumpkin biscuits and chocolate cupcakes (I neglected to tell them there was silken tofu in the cupcake recipe, tee hee).  Everyone accept my cousin Becky were a bit leery of the green smoothies though.

When I got home from Thanksgiving I fell headlong into preparations for a small craft fair that I was doing with some friends.  I made several teddy bears and sock monkeys and printed up some original art work on greeting cards.  The show went well and I sold a few items.  I also bought a few items so it all balanced out.  : )

Now I am in the home stretch for Christmas.  For me that means baking up a storm.  This year will be a bit different from the Christmases of years past.  While I have gone vegan most of my friends and family are not and quite a bit of my gift giving revolves around home-baked goodness.  So while I am not depriving them of homemade caramels from my grandmother’s recipe I am veganizing all of my cookie, zucchini bread and truffle recipes.    I am excited to experiment a bit with the caramel recipe and see if I can successfully veganize it.

That is all for now.  How are the holidays going for everyone else?

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Post Thanksgiving Whirlwind

Wow!  Time has been flying by since the Thanksgiving holiday.  I have been getting things ready for a little craft fair and prepping things for Christmas.  Tomorrow I will be blogging about my first vegan Thanksgiving and later this week I will be doing a post on pizza.

Sorry this is such a short post.  I promise lots of goodness to come this week so stay tuned.

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Thanksgiving is nearly here and it will be my first vegan holiday.  I’ve spent most of the week getting things ready.  I will be going to have Thanksgiving with family in Idaho this year and I will be the sole vegan in the group. 

The feast with the family is sure to be replete with butter, eggs, milk and all manner of non-vegan food.  I am also sure that there will be quite a bit of good-natured ribbing.  But I also intend to show the family how tasty veganism can be.

I will be bringing pumpkin biscuits, pumpkin truffles and chocolate cupcakes.  It will be interesting to see how it all goes.  I will be taking a lot of pictures and will more than likely have more than a few stories when I get back.

To everyone who will be celebrating this Thursday, Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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The October Farmer’s Markets were full of lovely pumpkins and I could not resist their siren song.  So, this year I bought a Halloween pumpkin with wonderful intentions of carving it into a masterpiece… but that didn’t happen.  Halloween came and went and my pumpkin sat on my porch looking very autumnal but not very scary. 

On Monday night I was feeling inspired by all of the posts I have been reading about roasting pumpkins.  I figured that since my pumpkin hadn’t quite turned out to be the ultimate Halloween decoration I could still get my money’s worth.  All needed to do was roast it and turn it into tasty pumpkin puree.  Such a wonderful idea, at least in theory.  When I actually set about roasting and pureeing, my brilliant inspiration gradually turned to determined frustration and ended in exhausted triumph.

At this point I should probably mention that I was not using a “cooking” pumpkin.  My pumpkin was about 19 inches tall and 16 inches around.  The Pumkin as compared to my 12 cup tea kettle

The size should have been my first clue that this would not be a quick task.  I also got a bit of a surprise when I cut my giant pumpkin open.  I was expecting it to have an 1-1/2 inches or so of meat to it.  Boy was I wrong!  The walls were about 3 inches thick on the sides and 4 inches thick towards the bottom.

Pictures 006

Okay, we have now established that this pumpkin was no shrinking violet.  I fact only 1/4 of the pumpkin fit into my modest oven at a time.  It took 30 minutes at 450 degrees for the pumpkin to become perfectly roasted.  When the roasted pumpkin became cool enough to handle it was time to remove the skin and puree it.

Now is a good time to mention that the sole blending device in my kitchen is a blender.  Not a fancy vita-mix type blender either.  Just a run of the mill 6 cup Oster blender.  It has always served me well and makes a mean smoothie, but I was about to discover that blending frozen fruit and blending roasted pumpkin don’t even come close in comparison. 

I peeled and sliced roughly 1 cup of pumpkin and proceeded to attempted to puree it.  My blender put out an awesome effort….for the first 5 seconds.  After the addition of some water and some coaxing with a spoon I got my first bit of pumpkin puree.  2 hours, a bit of cursing and a few tears later I had pureed half of the pumpkin.  You may be asking yourself, exactly how much puree can one make from half a giant pumpkin?

  The answer, 23 cups.23 cups o' pumpkin

Half of this pumpkin is still sitting in my fridge, sliced and waiting to be roasted this weekend.  I decided that pumpkin roasting/pureeing  is not a great weekday activity for me.  I definitely won’t be doing this on a Monday night ever again.

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In my quest to find new entrees, and off set my somewhat compulsive baking of sweets, I decided to try my hand at making falafel.  While I would love to say that I slaved over a hot stove preparing homemade falafel, such is not the case.  Instead I did the unthinkable.  I used….pre-made falafel mix.  *Gasp*  I know it’s a bit of a short cut but I had this vegan falafel mix in the pantry and it hadn’t expired yet, so I gave it a try. 

The falafel tasted really good.  It had good spice, good texture and really well the tsiziki that was made from scratch.  Granted, next time I make falafel I am going to try making it from scratch.  I have heard that homemade falafel beats the mixes hands down.  Isn’t that always the case though?

In non-food related food, I think I may have some pictures up on the blog by this weekend.  I am currently in the process of trying resurrect my camera from the dead.  With some luck and a new SD card I will be able to break up some of my long-winded posts with something pretty to look at.

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While my first choice for the perfect meal is one that I have with my own two hands, sometimes there just isn’t enough time to cook a proper meal.  I usually have that problem with my lunch hour.  Most of the time I have something waiting in the fridge that can be heated up or thrown together quickly, but some days that is not the case.

For example, today I had errands to run on my lunch hour which meant there was no time to go home and raid my fridge.  So I opted to go with a fast food lunch.  In my former life as an omni it would have been easy to go through any drive thru and get any number of menu items, but as a vegan things get a bit more complicated.  Especially if you are looking for something more to munch on than a side salad. 

So what is the hungry vegan on the go to do?  Well, the answer is easier than you might think.  The lovely folks at Veg Cooking have complied a list of vegan friendly fast food choices that will satisfy any appetite.  No matter where you live you are bound to find at least one of the restaurants on this list in your area. 

Without further ado, here is the list.

Arby’s offers a baked potato and a garden salad or side salad with Italian dressing. Finish it all off with an apple or cherry turnover.

Backyard Burgers, a restaurant chain in the South and the Midwest, offers a delicious garden veggie sandwich.

Remember going to Baskin-Robbinswhen you were knee-high to a grasshopper? Awaken the kid in you by trying the chain’s dairy-free and gelatin-free ices and sorbets, which are just as yummy and cooling as ice cream—without the pus and hormones.

A delicious vegetarian Boca burger and a fresh garden salad are your options at Bennigan’s.

Boston Markethas several vegan options, including the steamed vegetables, zucchini marinara, tossed salad (without the croutons and dressing), apple cobbler, chunky cinnamon applesauce, cranberry walnut relish, and fruit salad. The servers will also happily customize sandwiches upon request.

Bruegger’s Bagel Bakeryhas several breakfast and lunch options for vegans, including its blueberry, chocolate chip, cinnamon sugar, cranberry orange, pumpernickel, and rosemary olive oil bagels, which can be topped with fresh vegetables, Dijon mustard, or vegan hummus spread. Bruegger’s also serves several vegetarian sandwiches, which can be made vegan by leaving off the cheese and dressing.

Burger King’s BK Veggie™—a flame-broiled vegetarian burger (contains dairy products)—has enjoyed continued success. Every time a customer sees “BK Veggie™,” it is a reminder that “having it your way” doesn’t have to mean taking a bite out of Bessie.

The French fries, hash-brown nuggets, breadsticks, English muffins, and CrissCuts at Carl’s Jr. are all vegan. In the restaurant, there is an all-you-can-eat salad bar that offers a variety of fresh vegetables and a three-bean salad that can be topped with fat-free Italian dressing. Carl’s Jr. also offers Great Stuff™ baked potatoes, which can be ordered with all-vegetable margarine.

The grilled portobello mushroom sandwich and Boca burger are vegan at Cheeburger Cheeburger, which can be found throughout the Midwest and the South and on the East Coast.

Cheers offers a vegan veggie burger. Load it up with all the fixings for a filling meal.

At Chili’s, you can have the tostada chips and salsa as appetizers, followed by the veggie quesadillas—replacing the cheese and sour cream with extra vegetables—or the Cadillac Fajitas without the meat.

Chipotleoffers a vegetarian fajita burrito, but be sure to order it with black beans—the pinto beans are cooked with bacon.

The pizza sauce and dough at Chuck E. Cheese, Little Caesars, and Papa John’s are vegan, while Pizza Hut uses vegan sauce, and its Thin ’n Crispy and dessert crusts are vegan. By omitting the cheese and choosing your favorite vegetable toppings, you can easily make a delicious vegan pizza.

Cici’s Pizza is inexpensive and will deliver to your home. Just be sure to ask about the vegan status of each item on your pizza. Cici’s also offers a pasta-and-salad buffet with many vegan options.

The Broiled Portobello Stack at Claim Jumperis vegan if you ask for an unmarinated portobello mushroom.

Coco’s offers a delicious Boca burger that’s vegan if you order it without the mayonnaise.  A hot veggie sub is your vegan option at Cousin’s Subs.

The Daily Grill, located throughout California, offers a vegan grilled vegetable plate.

Dairy Queenoffers a vegan “ice cream” bar called Star Kiss. Dairy Queen also has vegan slushes in cherry, grape, blue raspberry, lemon lime, watermelon, and kiwi strawberry flavors. The selection varies by location

Even Denny’s—known for its traditional breakfasts, lunches, and dinners—has some vegan options. Denny’s vegan foods include oatmeal, English muffins, bagels, grits, applesauce, fresh fruit, vegetable plates, seasoned French fries, baked potatoes with several vegetable toppings, garden salads with light Italian or oil-and-vinegar dressing, and sandwiches that can be made with several vegetable options. It also serves a vegetarian burger.

5 & Diner has several vegan options, including a vegetarian burger and the Veggie Delight.

The vegan option at Flamers Grill is the Veggie Pattie.

Hard Rock Cafe offers a vegetarian burger, a veggie sandwich, and salads.

You have several vegan options at Hard Times Café, including the Café Veggie Burger and the Veggie Chili. Be sure to tell your server that you don’t want any dairy products in your Veggie Chili.

Harvey’s, with locations in Canada, offers a vegan veggie burger.

Houston’s offers a veggie plate and the Vegetarian Burger. Just be sure to order the burger on vegan bread.

Swing by a Petro truck stop and you’ll find the Iron Skillet restaurant, where you can refuel with the stacked salad bar and spaghetti with meat-free sauce.

The Garden Po’ Boy, the Portobello Wrapini, and the Spinach Veggie Wrap are your vegan options at Jason’s Deli. Be sure to ask about the vegan status of each of these dishes—it varies by location.

John Harvard’soffers a grilled Portobello mushroom sandwich and a veggie burger. Be sure to check the vegan status of your choice when ordering.

Johnny Rocketsfeatures the Streamliner, a vegan Boca burger with grilled onions, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and mustard.

Kelsey’s, with locations in Canada, has several vegan options, including Kelsey’s Vegetable Burger, the Roasted Vegetable Wrap, and the Vegetable Fajita. The vegan status of these dishes varies by location, so be sure to check with your server when ordering.

Macaroni Grillhas several vegan options, including all the pastas with garlic and oil and its Capellini Pomodoro. Try these tasty bites without the cheese: Tomato Bruschetta and Penne Arrabbiata. When opting for a salad, choose the house or garden without the cheese and top it with the restaurant’s balsamic vinaigrette, Italian dressing, or roasted-garlic vinaigrette.

All of Manhattan Bagel’s bagels are vegan, except for the jalapeño cheddar cheese and egg varieties, and its bialys—a flattened onion-and-poppy-seed bagel—are also vegan. The Manhattan Grille and Vegetable Garden sandwiches can be made on a bagel, a roll, or a tortilla and are vegan if you omit the spreads and cheese.

To keep up with the times, McDonald’sis offering a McVeggie burger in California and New York City. This is a trial run, and support for this tremendous addition is vital so that the rest of the world can also have access to this quick, animal-friendly burger. No animals were harmed for this burger—talk about a “happy meal”!

The Veggie Stack sandwich is your vegan option at Mimi’s Café, which is located on the West Coast and in the Midwest.

All of Moe’s tacos, fajitas, salads, and burritos can be made vegan by substituting tofu for meat and skipping the cheese. Just be sure to ask for a vegan tortilla.

O’Naturals, a restaurant chain in New England, offers healthy, all-natural fast food for diners who want great food to go. Its menu features a large vegetarian selection, and vegan items are marked for easy identification.

A great place for bagels, breads, soups, salads, and sandwiches is Panera Bread. A bagel with roasted garlic hummus is one vegan possibility. Each location varies its menu options, so just ask about the vegan options before ordering.

P.F. Chang’s is one of the most vegan-friendly restaurant chains around. Its vegetarian menu is terrific, and everything can be made vegan, from appetizers such as Tofu Lettuce Wraps to entrées like Orange Peel Tofu.

Located throughout Florida, Pollo Tropicaloffers Caribbean-inspired fast food, including several vegan options such as the Vegetarian TropiChop entrée. Other vegan items include Balsamic Tomatoes and Bananas Tropical. The chain’s black beans, French fries, white rice, yellow rice, boiled yucca, and corn are vegan too.

Pyramid Brewery offers a Boca burger that can be substituted for any nonvegan burger on its menu. The Margarita Pizza is also vegan.

A great alternative to Subway is Quiznos Subs. It offers a veggie sub that’s filled with guacamole, black olives, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and mushrooms—just be sure to order it without the cheese and ask for the balsamic vinaigrette instead of the red wine vinaigrette. Grab a side garden salad and some potato chips, and your stomach will be appeased in no time.

The Natural Burger without the Safari Sauce and the Morningstar Garden Grill are the vegan options at Rainforest Café.

If you stop at Roy Rogers, you’ll find baked potatoes, sides of veggies, and a salad bar. And its mashed potatoes are vegan if you forgo the gravy.

Ruby Tuesday offers a fabulous veggie burger that’s vegan if you leave off the mayo and cheese. It also offers a yummy veggie burger wrap and has a terrific salad bar.

Shari’s offers a flame-grilled Gardenburger as its vegan option.

Subway’s Veggie Delite—on Italian bread and without cheese and mayo—is delish! Want to spice things up a bit? After visiting Subway, visit the nearest grocery store, purchase some fake lunch meats, and load up your sub!

Sweet Tomatoes, located throughout the South and the West, has a variety of salads, sandwiches, and soups.

Ohio’s Swenson’s Drive-In offers the Veggie Special.

Several of Taco Bell’sdishes can be veganized simply by omitting a few ingredients. The 7-Layer Burrito can be vegan with five layers—just forgo the cheese and sour cream. The tacos, nachos, and Mexican pizzas are vegan when you ask the cashier to hold the meat, cheese, and sour cream. Or stick with the bean burrito without the cheese.

Tubby’s, with locations in Michigan, has the vegan Hot Veggie Stir-Fry Sandwich.

Village Inn has a Boca burger that is vegan if ordered without mayonnaise and cheese.

Head to Wendy’s for a plain baked potato, the Deluxe Garden Salad with red Italian dressing and no cheese, or French fries. You can also ask for a veggie sandwich, which includes everything that would normally be on the burger except the meat—there’s even a button for it on the cash register.

World Wraps, with locations in Washington and California, offers its vegan customers the Tofu and Mushroom Teriyaki and the Bombay Curry Veggie. 

So the question remains, what did I have for lunch today?  Well I went to a local establishment called Taqueria Yungapeti and got their veggie burrito minus the sour cream and cheese.  It was sensational! 

What is your favorite place/menu item when you go out to eat?

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I am finally back on my feet, and after a course of antibiotics and lots of sleep I am ready to start cooking again.  While I was down for the count most of my meals consisted of canned soup, fruit and whatever else was lying around.  So, needless to say, I have been itching to get in the kitchen and cook some real food.  This weekend provided the perfect opportunity to whip up some of my favorite comfort foods. 

For me comfort food is seasonal.  Something that hits the spot in winter or fall, may not do the trick in spring or summer.  Since we are in the midst of fall (with occasional winter tendencies) comfort food favorites include potatoes, homemade applesauce, cornbread and muffins.  Yum!  Just thinking about them gives me the warm fuzzies. 

For this adventure in comfort I made use of one new recipe and one old favorite.  The new recipe is for Sizzlin’ Home Fries.  It takes the classic goodness of pan fried potatoes and kicks it up a notch with some spicy goodness.  The old favorite is my Struselicious Banana Mini Muffin recipe, which has all of the flavor of banana bread packed into tasty little bite-sized morsels.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Sizzlin’ Home Fries

2-3 potatoes (I like Reds or Yukon Golds)

2 tsp. Olive Oil

1/2 Red Bell Pepper, diced

1/2 Green Bell Pepper, Diced

1/2 Medium onion, chopped (I use sweet or Vidalia onions)

1/4-1/2 cup Water

1/2 tbsp. Garlic, minced

1 tsp. Chili Powder

1/2 tsp. Cumin

1/2 tsp. Salt

1/8 tsp. Black Pepper

Wash potatoes and cut them into 1/2 inch  cubes.  Put the olive oil and potatoes in a large skillet and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the bell peppers, onion and water to the skillet then cover and cook for 5-10 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.  (You may need to add a bit more water as the vegetables cook.)  Removed the lid from the skillet and add the garlic and seasonings.  Cook uncovered for about 5 more minutes.  Serve just as they are or with your favorite hot sauce.

If you like a bit more heat you can add a diced jalapeno chile or for a different flavor add a diced chipotle chili.  If you want a more mild version just switch up the seasonings.  Keep it simple by using just salt and pepper or be as creative as you want. 

Struselicious Banana Mini MuffinsStrucelicious Banana Nut Muffins

1 cup Unbleached White flour

1 cup Whole Wheat pastry  flour

1/2 tsp. Baking soda

1/3 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread

1 cup mashed Banana

3/4 cup Brown Sugar

3 tbsp. Your favorite Non-Dairy milk or Water

1 tsp. Vanilla

In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix the flour, baking powder and baking soda then set aside.  In a large bowl, cream the Earth Balance Buttery spread and brown sugar.  Beat the mashed banana into the sugar mixture.  Add the non-dairy milk or water and vanilla into the banana mixture then add the flour mixture.  Stir until well combined.  If you like you can fold in 1/2 cup of chopped nuts. (I like pecans but I know a lot of people like walnuts.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spoon batter into a well-oiled mini muffin tin so that each cup is about 3/4 full.  Then mix strusel as follows:

1/3 cup Unbleached White or Whole Wheat Flour

1/3 cup Brown Sugar

1/3 cup White Sugar

3-4 tbsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread

1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

1/8 tsp. Nutmeg

A generous dash of Clove

Using a fork, combine the above ingredients in a small bowl until it forms small pea-sized clumps.  Spoon strusel mix over the muffin batter so that it fills the rest of each cup.

Place the muffin tin in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes.  Cooking times may vary depending on your oven so keep a close eye on you muffins while they are baking.  If you want full-sized muffins prepare them the same way as the minis but use a regular-sized muffin tin and increase baking time to 25-30 minutes.

Now that I have shared some of my vegan comfort food favorites I would love to know what your favorite comfort foods are.

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